PROMISE A RHODODENDRON, NOT A ROSE GARDEN
Baby Boomer marriages ebb and flow like some kind of emotional riptide.
One day it’s all good, the next day it’s something else, though not necessarily bad since boomers love staying positive.
The joke going around long-term marriage comes from asking one of the partners, “How long are you married?”
The answer is a variation of, “Twenty five great years together…out of forty.”
What’s next, “Take my wife…please?”
Henny Youngman wore that one out, but kept going to the whip until you had to laugh.
Portland baby boomer marriages have an advantage. When they think about dropping their mate, it could be a case of Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Husband: “I want a divorce.”
Wife: “Sure you do. Let’s talk about it after you spend half an hour with the Happy Light.”
Blame the weather? It’s easier for Oregon boomers than Hawaii or LA, and it might be the problem.
More likely, the reported spike in baby boomer divorce comes from the old stand-by, lack of communication.
If you’ve been to marriage counseling you know how important communication is.
Therapist #1: “I’m so glad to meet you both. Let’s see if we can save this marriage.”
Wife: “Before we get started let’s understand that all we’re looking for are a few more communication tools, not a marriage savior. No one’s trying to discredit your effort. Let’s start on the same page.”
It’s important to lay the groundwork before you get out of the car, but if not, get it in before the first session.
You don’t want this exchange:
Therapist #2: “Since this is our first session, tell me about yourself.”
Husband: “Yes. I’m a writer. I’ve been writing all my life and now see a chance to go all in. I believe I have the drive and skills to start this career change that has no limits. My wife isn’t so sure.”
Therapist #2: “You certainly sound well defended.”
Husband: “I don’t know what that means.”
Wife: “Me neither. We’re looking for better communication tools.”
Everyone wants better communication tools right up to the point of one partner saying, “I can read your mind.”
Leave the mind reading, palm reading, and tea leaf reading to the crystal ball set. All you want are better communication tools, not a side trip to the carnival.
What would a mind reading wife do if she saw her husband thinking about last weekend’s overnighter with his online romance in the same downtown boutique hotel where they spent their last anniversary? What, he wasn’t on that out of town business trip?
Or if a mind reading husband saw his wife sharing an intimate drink with an old boyfriend in the bar of the same hotel?
They want communication tools, not a tire iron, but what would help them break that sort of news?
You can only play the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ card so often before asking too much and telling all.
One solution might be, “Is there anything you want to tell me?”
Communication based on honesty makes the difference until one party stops answering difficult questions. They need to learn that not answering questions is still an answer. It’s the worst choice either can make.